Chen Tianqiao Programme on Urban Innovation:
Cities and Innovation

Programme Lead: Dr Belinda Yuen (LKYCIC, SUTD)
Team: Ms Julienne Chen, Dr Felicia Natali, Dr Sylvian Pierre Remy (LKYCIC, SUTD)

A major thrust under the Programme is Cities and Innovation. Cities around the world are seeking to enhance their status as global cities. They are increasingly doing so through economic and social development founded on innovation. Current debates on urbanisation, economic growth, and globalisation are fixated on the status and success factors of global cities in an increasingly competitive international system of cities. As a result, many of the underlying factors that give cities their unique characteristics, socio-economic form, and spatial form are subsumed into notions of cities as “leaders” and “followers.”

Cities and Innovation aims to research the unique traits – social, economic, scientific and technological, artistic and creative, as well as political and institutional – that are key drivers behind innovation in cities in 21st century economic development. A key goal of the programme is to study important connections between political and economic structures and processes, on one hand, and growth and social welfare outcomes in multiple contexts, on the other.

This research programme seeks to investigate what it means in the contemporary period for cities to be innovative by focusing on two areas. First, what are cities getting out of their increasingly significant efforts in supporting innovation as a growth driver? And second, in what ways are city governments getting involved in innovation, and with what implications for their service functions?

Two key areas:

(i) Cities, Innovation & the Knowledge Economy – first, carrying out statistical analyses of metropolitan innovation input and output performance in view of establishing a robust set of cities in which to pursue comparative work. Second, in-depth comparative case study analysis of metropolitan innovation blending qualitative research methods with network analysis to examine the structure of local innovation systems.

(ii) Innovation in Government – case study analysis of innovation at the urban service delivery level in select cities. The aim is to understand how city governments are using technological and organizational innovations to improve the lives of citizens, especially vulnerable groups.